Posted on September 24, 2009
by Catherine Austen
When a friend told me that she pre-ordered my novel, Walking Backward, from Amazon.ca, I got all excited to think that was even possible. I visited the site, found my book ranked 135,629th, and felt happy to be there at all.
On a whim, I plugged my name into the various search engines to see what came up…
What came up was Jane. Jane Austen herself, Jane’s neice Catherine Hubback (a writer of ten novels, none of which I’ve read), Jane’s character Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice, and Jane’s character Catherine in Northanger Abbey (“in which Catherine is twice plagued by terribly tragic timing.”) I have always felt pleased to have the same last name as Jane, but honestly, how many pages of her listings can a person take?
The search was not entirely fruitless, though. I learned of a new book: Pride and Prejudice and zombies: the classic Regency romance–now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. (I do not think Jane was aware of the cooperative effort.) I put that one on hold at the local library. There’s a long waiting list — it was a best-seller — but I’m sure it’s worth it.
Searching my name on Bing introduced me to the work of an Argentinian photographer on Flickr. He is a man, possibly named Frederico, who for some reason streams his portraits under the same name as mine. The search also uncovered my first blog entry, which states,”I’m totally confused.” That’s the only bit of the real me out in cyberspace.
My name search on Google had better luck. Peppered among the gazillion Jane Austen listings was evidence of my book, listed at several bookstores and Orca Book Publishers. This search introduced me to a Londoner who shares my name and has a Facebook page featuring herself on horseback, and a mover and shaker named Catherine Austin Fitts who has many listings under her second-rate spelling. Again, the only listing of the real me was the “totally confused” bit. (More applicable now than ever.)
My name search on Yahoo called up more than my total confusion. It listed CM Magazine‘s review of Walking Backward and, surprisingly, several reports on draft bills for Canadian endangered species legislation, which I wrote back in the 1990s when I was immersed in that field of work. That was a fun trip down memory lane. (Unfortunately it didn’t bring back my former knowledge of HTML coding so that I can make a decent website that’ll actually appear when I search for myself.)
A search for Walking Backward brought up even less of the real me. But I discovered that walking backward sharpens the thought process, according to a Dutch study. When in doubt about what to do, backing away slowly seems to be the best course of action.
This morning my book ranks 139,650th on the Amazon site. Somehow 4,000 books have rushed ahead of mine in sales in just 12 hours! (Possibly because mine is not actually released yet, but I suspect other reasons, too.)
Online self-searching is starting to bring me down. I have to put myself out there more. I should register my website with search engines and beg friends to shop online. I’ll get out books on web design — right after I read the zombie novel — and make a website everyone will want to visit.
Or maybe I should just take a step back, then go write another good book.
Well, I’m here so you’re not THAT hard to find! LOL. Few suggestions – you could post on sites like jacketflap, SCBWI forum, Absolute Write with a “horay, my debut book is coming out” post. That will get some new eyes. Also, have you considered sending the book to bloggers who review YA? A few examples are La Femme Readers, YA Book Queen or Shut Up! I’m reading. If you go to any of those blogs, you can look at the blogrolls and be linked to other great book blogging sites.
Can’t wait till your book comes out.
(I’ve just arrived home from Ottawa and stopped on the way to purchase Shiver and the new Kelley Armstrong book Frostbitten. Couch + werewolves = good way to unwind from a long trip)